3D Movie Maker
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Big Blue Dot (Nickelodeon 3D Movie Maker)
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows|
|Type||3D computer graphics software|
3D Movie Maker (commonly shortened to 3DMM) is a children's computer program developed by Microsoft Home's Microsoft Kids subsidiary in 1995. Using the program, users can make films by placing 3D characters and props into pre-rendered environments, as well as adding actions, sound effects, music, text, speech and special effects. Movies are then saved in the .3mm file format.
The program features two helper characters to guide users through the various features of the program: The character McZee (voiced by Michael Shapiro) provides help throughout the studio while his assistant Melanie provides other various tutorials. In Nickelodeon 3D Movie Maker, the user is instead guided by Stick Stickly.
3D Movie Maker is built on BRender, a 3D graphics engine created by Argonaut Software. The models and backgrounds were made by Illumin8 Digital Pictures (a now-defunct graphics studio) using Softimage modeling software, while the cinematic introduction and help sequences were made by Productions Jarnigoine, a now-inactive production company founded by Jean-Jacques Tremblay. In 1998, a user named Space Goat created the website 3dmm.com that allows users to upload movies and mods for 3DMM. 3dmm.com is still used today by many 3DMM enthusiasts.
Filmmaking in 3D Movie Maker is a straightforward process, allowing users to create various kinds of movies with ease. By default, 40 actors/actresses are available (each with 4 different costumes and a number of actions), as well as 20 different props. Twelve different scenes are available to the user, each containing several different camera angles. Many sample voice and MIDI music clips are included, but original voices can be recorded using a microphone while external .wav and .MIDI files can be imported.
The way movies are made in 3DMM is not like that of a movie camera. In 3DMM, a movie camera works by recording frames in quick succession. 3DMM stores the positions of the characters and objects for each frame; it moves at about 6 to 8 frames per second, which makes the movies choppier than expected. The finished movie can only be viewed inside 3DMM using the virtual auditorium or the studio, unless converted to a video file format with a third-party utility. The application's user interface is centered upon a theater building consisting of several rooms: the ticket booth, where the user is greeted by McZee and then asked to play or create a movie; the lobby and concession stand; the theater for watching movies, a projecting room for tutorials for 3D logos and tips, an idea room for movie ideas (also where the talent book stands); and the studio for movie-making tools. The V3DMM version of 3DMM restricts viewing movies only in the studio.[clarification needed]
- A Japanese expansion pack for 3DMM was released with characters from the popular children's manga and anime series Doraemon. It consists of 11 new scenes, 5 new characters and 96 new voice lines.
- Nickelodeon 3D Movie Maker is a Nickelodeon-themed version of 3D Movie Maker. This version includes 12 unique actors and 11 unique scenes from classic Nicktoons such as Rocko's Modern Life, Ren & Stimpy and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. An unofficial expansion pack was later created, which allowed Nickelodeon actors, props, scenes, music and sounds to be used in the original 3D Movie Maker.
- Demo versions: These only feature the studio, don't allow the opening/saving of movies and only feature two actors and one prop. They are Bongo, Nakita and a red car for 3D Movie Maker, while for Nickelodeon 3D Movie Maker they are Ren, Stimpy and a spaceship. A demo version was distributed with the Microsoft Interactive CD Sampler (1996).
Several user-made expansion packs and animation tools exist, such as:
- 3DMM Animation Pro (2002): Binds mouse movements to the keyboard, which allows directors to create more fluid movements on the screen.
- Doraemon Expansion Pack: This pack was only released in Japan.
- 3DMM Expansion Pack (2003): A user-made expansion pack known as "Frankie's Expansion" after its creator Frank Weindel, who introduced the first new textures, actors and objects to the software since release.
- Virtual 3D Movie Maker (V3DMM; 2004): An expansion management program that allows users to include their own customized expansions in their movies and allow them to be freely distributed.
- 7gen (2005): A GUI for creating V3DMM expansions.
- 3DMM Pencil++ 2: A program for editing 3D Movie Maker datafiles that allows users to edit expansions.
- Nickelodeon Expansion Pack: An unofficial expansion pack that adds all the actors, props, textures, scenes and sounds from Nickelodeon 3D Movie Maker.
Virtual 3D Movie Maker (or V3DMM for short) is a 3rd party expansion management program that allows users to include their own customized expansions in their movies. Notable expansions include characters from The Simpsons, Pokémon, PaRappa the Rapper, and other notable media icons.
Alamo PC Organization wrote: "This is not a program one masters in a few days, or even weeks. It is a wonderful demonstration of technological advancement for Windows 95 graphical programming possibilities. This program in the hands of casual, perhaps even dedicated home users, is not a threat to any commercial animation firm." Aaron Matterson of Joystick Division said that "it looked impossibly goofy even by 1995 standards, but [I did] love it, and it taught me many things about my own creativity, the art of storytelling, and a strange, terrible humanoid creature named McZee".
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